Flicking through my Lib Dem Spring Conference agenda and directory, I was dismayed to spot the following exhibitor:
Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights
CCHR: international watchdog in the mental health field since it was co-founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Professor of Psychiatry Dr Thomas Szasz to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights.
CCHR is one of a family of “independent” organisations that can be found hovering around the Scientology hub, which includes Applied Scholastics and the comically named Criminon and Narconon. If the Applied Scholastics stand at Conservative conference a couple of years ago is anything to go by, literature from all these organisations will be included, as will plenty of copies of the L. Ron Hubbard-penned The Way to Happiness.
Of course, most Lib Dem conference attendees will treat this stall in the way they treat most commercial exhibitors: with polite contempt. But I am profoundly uncomfortable about the way these organisations tend to present themselves as secular and independent when they are anything but. It is a trap for the unwary – note the misleading “Tax Payers’ Alliance” type name for instance.
Ultimately what I’m saying here is: be aware of who they are. And if you do happen to have a V for Vendetta mask…